Soon, the majority of drone purchases, no matter the owner’s purpose for use, will be required to be registered with the federal government.
According to a report from NBC News, the move comes as federal agencies have become increasingly concerned over the rise in “close calls between unmanned drones and aircraft flying into and out of some of the nation’s biggest airports.”
The purpose for the registration is to be able to track down operators of drones that crash or cause complications for manned aircraft. The federal government is expected to make the announcement later today.
As things currently stand, purchases of unmanned aircraft are not required to be registered. The Federal Aviation Administration requires businesses who wish to fly the aircraft for profit to file for an exemption, but recreational use of the aircraft is unregulated, with operators simply asked to follow a few safety guidelines—many of which apply to model airplane operation.
However, in August, the FAA issued a warning to drone operators after receiving 650 reports this year alone from airplane and helicopter pilots of drones flying too close to their aircraft. No accidents have been reported.
A report this morning from the Associated Press says in response, the FAA is forming a group comprised of government and drone industry officials along with hobbyists to figure out how the registration system will work.
Apparently, not all drones will be required to register. Smaller drones and toys will likely be exempt, the AP reports. Drones that will be subject are those that weigh more and are capable of flying “thousands of feet” in the air.
This isn’t the FAA’s first solution to the problem of drones flying to close to manned aircraft. In August, the agency began testing a smartphone app that allows drone operators to see if their flight locale was in a safe area.
But as use drones continues to skyrocket, the agency likely felt an app beta wasn’t going to cut the growing threat of irresponsible piloting. And the skies are only expected to get busier with the Consumer Electronics Association forecasting 700,000 drone purchases this holiday season.